Errors with the Australian immunisation register have prevented a frontline health worker from properly recording her two Covid vaccine doses, a problem that is being increasingly reported.
Some reported errors with only a first dose or second dose showing when both doses had been administered. Others said they were recorded as already being fully vaccinated despite not having a single dose.
Accurate records will be critical as the world moves to vaccine passport systems and conditional restrictions for the unvaccinated.
Sydney’s Homebush mass vaccination centre, one of New South Wales’s biggest hubs, appears to be having significant problems in uploading vaccine data to the registry.
NSW Health is now telling those with erroneous records from any of its major hubs to fill out a form to request a correction.
One anaesthetist, who was until recently working at the Mildura base hospital, told Guardian Australia the register inaccurately recorded she had not been fully vaccinated.
But she received her first dose in April and her second dose in June. The first dose appears on the register but the second does not – despite it being administered on 16 June.
The doctor, who asked not to be named, is about to travel to New Zealand to take up a frontline health job.
“I can’t get a certificate to prove my vaccination status, which I need for my new job and also for travel,” she told Guardian Australia. “Thankfully there is a delay with flights, so at least that takes some time to get things organised.”
The nursing staff who administered the jabs appeared to enter the data correctly. But, no matter who she has approached, the doctor cannot get the record fixed.
“Every time I’ve phoned Bendigo [Health] or the immunisation register, they’ve been very helpful … but it’s still not resolved.”
Radha Kuppalli, of Sydney, had to go through a “rabbit hole of calling different government agencies” to try to get her record corrected, before finally being directed to the form. “It’s really frustrating and alarming,” she said.
Hassan Chaudry, a Sydney-based consultant, also had errors after attending the Homebush vaccination hub. He had his vaccinations in late May and mid-June but said the first dose wasn’t recorded.
He contacted Medicare, who advised him it was a problem for NSW Health and advised that the Homebush site had had “issues with uploading” which had created a backlog.
“Hearing that, I contacted the NSW Health vaccination helpline who, after the usual extended wait time, were quite helpful and said they could see the details and contacted Olympic park for me to sort out the issue,” he said. “Took them 2-3 days but Olympic park followed up themselves via email updating me that the issue had been sorted out and provided an updated extract of my record on the AIR.”
Past reviews of the register have found significant levels of error. A 2018 study found 14% of records on the register were inaccurate. Common errors were caused by bad data entry or incompatible software by vaccine providers.
Duplicate records, website errors, and the use of paper records also caused inaccurate information on the register.
Services Australia, which administers the register, says only vaccine providers can record immunisation information on the register.
“The provider is responsible for ensuring the information is correct,” it said in a statement last week.
“People can contact Services Australia if they believe their information is incorrect. Services Australia will investigate and work with the vaccination provider to resolve these matters as soon as possible.”
“Services Australia takes all data quality issues seriously, recognising the need for accurate and up-to-date data on an individual’s immunisation record.”